SIGN OF THE CROSS / THE LORD / ONLY BEGOTTEN SON/ HOLY SPIRIT
Sunday 7 June 2020
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we celebrate the solemnity of the Holy Trinity which is the mystery of God in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Sign of the Cross: The trinity accompanies us every day of our life and it is inherent in the Christian life. The Holy Trinity is naturally present in our lives through the gesture of the sign of the cross I noticed that in Ireland there are particularly two moments when people express their faith in the Trinity: first, it is when the hearse circulates in the city. Second, it is when people walk past a church. It is almost natural for people to make the sign of the cross. Implicitly, they believe in God the Father, who revealed his name as ‘The Lord’ in the first reading, they believe in the only begotten Son of this Sunday’s Gospel, and naturally in the Holy Spirit to which Saint Paul alludes at the end of Sunday’s second reading.
The Lord: The first reading of this Sunday describes the meeting of Moses and God on Mount Sinai. God reveals himself to Moses by name: The Lord. He is a God of compassion and love. He is a God who listened to the cry of the suffering people of Israel and came to their aid through Moses. Moses is the representative of the people of God in their covenant with God. He is the one who dialogues with God. God manifests to him as “a God of tenderness and compassion.” It is therefore not surprising if the name of God is mercy. The name ‘Lord’ had been known to the people of Israel for centuries, even before the birth of Jesus. The people of Israel could not pronounce it out of respect. God who comes to meet Moses on Mount Sinai expresses his solidarity, his compassion with the people of Israel whom He freed not only from slavery in Egypt but also He continues to accompany them by his presence on their pilgrimage to the promised land. The Lord or “YHVH” in Hebrew is a great memory for the people of Israel. This name reminds them of the compassion and mercy of God. What can we learn from this reading?
Indeed, God knows our sufferings. He knows the sufferings of humanity. God feels for us not only pity when we are in difficulties but also love! He is “tender and merciful, slow to anger, full of love and truth”. So, it is not just a feeling or an emotion, God comes to our aid in the situations in which we find ourselves. Most often, we ask ourselves the question of whether God is always present by our side. Certainly, many of us felt that God was absent during this pandemic period. Some have also thought that it is the wrath of God that has descended on humanity. So, we have the answer in today's readings. The name of the Lord is compassion.
Only Son: Saint John in this Sunday's Gospel reminds us that it is enough to believe in the only Son of God to be saved. In difficult times, the Lord always manifests; perhaps He manifests in ways we do not expect, but He is always present. In the first reading, God chose Moses to help liberate the people of Israel. In today's Gospel, it is Jesus: "God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son." It is interesting here to see that the judgment is also based on our faith in Jesus. Those who believe will be saved and those who disbelieve are already judged. Salvation therefore depends on belief in the mercy of God. Of course, we remain free not to believe: "He who does not believe is already judged, because he did not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God".
Holy Spirit: Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us respond to God's invitation to all of us to believe in Him. This is the meaning of the last sentence of the second reading that the priests use most often at the beginning of the mass: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”. The expressions: “grace”, "love", "fellowship", are what we need this week. We need the grace of God to strengthen our faith in the Only Begotten Son. We must love him more and more and love our neighbour. We need fellowship for our divided humanity. Communion is more necessary today than ever in our world marked by wars, structured injustice, the sin of racism. Communion is necessary to build a civilization of justice and love for all. May the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity help each of us to be a channel of peace and cohesion around us. Amen!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo, SCJ
CELEBRATION OF NEW BEGINNINGS/CELEBRATION OF THE VARIOUS GIFTS
Sunday 31 May 2020
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This Sunday we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost which comes fifty days after Easter (first reading). In the Gospel, the disciples receive the Holy Spirit on the day of the resurrection. This celebration ends our Easter season and we begin the ordinary time tomorrow. Each year we celebrate this feast, but the question we might ask ourselves today is: what makes this solemnity special?
Beginning of the Church: many homilies today will no doubt refer to the birth of the Church. We could and we should speak of the birthday of our Church today. The Holy Spirit finds the disciples confined. When they received the Holy Spirit, they found the courage and the strength to come out of their hiding place to begin their mission. The Holy Spirit that the disciples received was promised by Jesus before his Ascension. Let us remember his word in his farewell speeches in today’s Gospel. Jesus told his disciples that he will not leave them orphans: “but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.” The celebration of Pentecost is therefore also the celebration of the birth and maturity of the Church. Let us also remember today our Sacrament of Confirmation. This sacrament marked for each of us a new beginning since we became mature. For us Catholics, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity.
Beginning of a new life: The celebration of Pentecost also marks an important turning point in the life of the disciples. From now on, they will announce the Good News of Christ against all odds. They will do it even at the cost of their lives. It is also the meaning of the symbolism of today's liturgical colour. Indeed, today, the priests are dressed in red. We also wear this colour on Good Friday when celebrating the Passion and the death of our Lord Jesus, we also wear it when celebrating the martyrs of the Church. Today, we wear the red colour as a reminder of the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire on each disciple. We know that fire destroys just as fire purifies. Let us remember how the blacksmith uses fire to purify iron. The Holy Spirit therefore comes today to put order in the life of each one of us. It is an invitation to new beginnings. Beginning of a new relationship with God and with my brothers and sisters (Maybe I need the sacrament of reconciliation? Always remember that your priests are available at any time, just ring the parish house). How do I look at my neighbour? How do I look at the person I find different from me? What is my perception of the stranger, the poor, the homeless? What does human dignity mean to me today? Maybe it also the celebration of the beginning of my personal prayer and my meditation of the Bible. This feast marks the beginning of a new liturgical time which is ordinary time, but it is also the month of June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Yes, we are invited today to make the decision to move forward. The celebration of Pentecost is also the celebration of great decisions. What do you take today as a decision in your Christian life? In which direction would you like to go?
Celebration of the various gifts: if the Holy Spirit is above all a Person and also a mystery in our Catholic tradition, it is not, however, specific to the Catholic Church. Many Protestant churches claim to follow the Pentecostal movement, that is, animated and guided above all by the strength of the Holy Spirit. We also find this conception in the Catholic Church. It is represented by charismatic movements or charismatic groups. These are groups that operate by promoting the recognition of gifts and renewal in the Spirit. For example, many of these charismatic groups put forward the gift of languages, speaking in tongues. We find something similar in today's first reading. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, the disciples listened to those who were present in their own language. Today we recognize that there are a variety of gifts or charisms, but all of this is put to the service of the same Lord. The Lord has given each of us at least one gift. How do we put it at the service of our brothers and sisters? Saint Paul reminds us in 1 Cor 12: 4-11 that each of us receives a gift from God for the Service of all: “There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good. To one is given from the Spirit the gift of utterance expressing wisdom; to another the gift of utterance expressing knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, from the same Spirit; and to another, the gifts of healing, through this one Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the power of distinguishing spirits; to one, the gift of different tongues and to another, the interpretation of tongues. But at work in all these is one and the same Spirit, distributing them at will to each individual.”
Now let us raise our hands to invoke the Spirit of Pentecost. Holy Spirit, consoling Spirit, you who gave the confined disciples the courage to go out and to proclaim the Good News to all nations, come upon me. Touch my heart, renew my relationship with God the Father and the Son, renew my relationship with my brothers and sisters. Help me to see in my brother and sister the image of the Father. Heal me, purify me, and make me an instrument of the Good News in today's world. Amen!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo, SCJ
A PENTECOST REFLECTION OF ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN
Sunday 31 May 2020
After his resurrection, at the moment in which he returned to his Father, Jesus pours out the Spirit upon his disciples and makes them sharers in his own mission. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the disciples went out on the first Pentecost Sunday and began to preach the Good News to peoples from all parts of the then known world.
The Spirit enabled the apostles to speak a message which was understandable to all. The Spirit enabled them to teach a message that was relevant and understandable to the lives and the concrete realities of peoples of different backgrounds. The message of Jesus is a universal one, not just in the sense that it has spread right around the world, but above all in that no one, no people is excluded from that message or from the community that Jesus’ message constructs.
The disciples of Jesus are brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. You cannot be a solo-Christian. Christianity is a faith that demands the building of community. The Church is called, according to the opening words of the Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church, to be “a sign and a sacrament of the unity in Jesus Christ of all humankind”. Wherever Church exists, it must be a sign for all to see of unity and community.
We all need community. Community is not just for the few who are naturally gregarious. We need something more than a vague good neighbourliness based on living next-door to each other without enmity or undue friction. We all need real community.
In our times - for the first time in human history - more than half of the world’s population lives in an urban setting. Modernity fosters urban life. The Archdiocese of Dublin is predominantly an urban diocese, though partly rural. Building urban community is a major challenge. Where the building of urban community fails, the results come in social breakdown, violence and alienation. Where urban community is built up, we have that extraordinary sense of care and solidarity which for generations marked the best of our inner cities. In the current crisis, we have seen great examples of spontaneous community support.
As we return towards a normalisation of Church life, we have to create focal points of community within our huge urban conglomerations. For too long we have given the name “development” to a process of simply building houses on the fringes of our cities, without any of the infrastructures to support community. Society needs community.
We live in a world in which for many individualism, self-expression and self-sufficiency become the driving force of human activity. Growth, progress, economic interest and profit can often be pursued for their own sake, without any regard for the consequences for other areas of life, whether on the poor and excluded, or the environment, or on the global good of inclusion.
The freedom given by the Spirit is not an individualistic freedom. The freedom that comes from the Spirit unites. The freedom that comes from the Spirit overcomes division. We all need community, but we must all construct community.
The “Creator Spirit” is the one who helps us steer the path of human progress in another direction, within a framework respectful of God’s design for his creation, forcing us to transform our individualism and self-centeredness into a response of generosity. Society needs community. Society needs a Church which witnesses to community and care.
PERSECUTION / MISSION - HOPE
(Sunday 17 May)
When I was meditating on today's readings, I was particularly touched by three aspects. It was the persecution in Jerusalem that led Christians of Greek origin to mission and evangelisation. This mission was the foundation of the present Church and it testifies for us today of the hope which never ends.
Today, the first reading tells us about Philip who arrived in the city of Samaria and proclaimed Christ. Among the Jews, some came from Israel and especially from Jerusalem and they spoke Hebrew at the synagogue and Aramaic in the street. They were called “Hebrews”. The rest came from the so-called diaspora, that is, from the rest of the Roman Empire; they spoke Greek and they were called “Hellenists”.
Let us remember the first reading last Sunday which dealt with the institution of the seven deacons in the service of charity. Indeed, there were problems of discrimination in the division of property between widows of Hebrew origin and those of widows of Greek origin (the diaspora). And, to solve these problems, the apostles appointed seven men responsible for charitable services.
Among these seven men were Stephen and Philip. Both were Greek Jews who recently became Christians. They were trying to convert the Jews who came to the synagogues of Jerusalem where people spoke Greek. It was in this atmosphere that a quarrel broke out. But it was no longer a dispute between Christians of different origins as we saw last Sunday, it was a much more serious quarrel, between the Hellenist Jews who believed in Jesus of Nazareth and the Jews of Jerusalem who continued to think that Jesus was only an impostor. It is in this context that the first persecution begins: Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ attack their Jewish brothers who have become Christians. Stephen paid for it with his life. He was denounced by the Jews from Jerusalem to the authorities. He was arrested, executed. For their safety, the group of Hellenists Jews left Jerusalem and Philip one of the them. This is how he arrived in Samaria.
Being in Samaria, Philip proclaimed the risen Christ and his preaching found much support to the point that the Church of Jerusalem was obliged to send Peter and John who were Jews of Hebrew origin to support him. And so, thanks to the persecution, the Good News spread beyond Jerusalem and reached the other cities of Judea and Samaria. It was because of the persecution and spread of the early Christians that allowed evangelisation to gain ground.
So, there is something positive about the persecution. It is partly because of this persecution that many of the earliest Christian communities were formed. The lesson we can learn here is that in the most difficult situations, best things can emerge. It is also the message that arises more and more during this pandemic of corona virus. More and more, we read messages like “you are not alone” or “let us be united”. Suddenly there is a feeling of universal solidarity which gives rise to a rediscovery of the importance of unity. We hope this lasts and that more and more the feeling of common humanity will deepen throughout the world.
Our Church is partly alive today because of the persecution in the past. I am not saying here that we must support the persecution. The persecution of Christians around the world must be condemned with the utmost firmness. The example of the first disciples of Jesus in the first reading gives us this assurance and this hope. It is this same hope that Jesus tries to explain to his disciples in his farewell speech. As he prepares to leave them, he announces to them the coming of the Spirit: “I will not leave you orphans, I come back to you.” “I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Defender who will be with you forever: the Spirit of Truth.” We can easily perceive in his speech his Ascension and the Pentecost, forty and fifty days after his resurrection.
Let us entrust ourselves to the risen Christ this Sunday and ask him to give us the same assurance as his disciples in the Gospel today. The assurance that we are not alone and that the Defender, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit is our defender and our protector in all situations of our life. Amen!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo, SCJ
WAY / TRUTH / LIFE
(Sunday 10 May)
We continue to read St. John’s Gospel this Sunday. We are in the part of the Gospel which is called the book of the Hour or the book of Glory. This piece begins with the washing of the disciples’ feet and continues until chapter 20 with the first apparitions of Jesus. It is called the book of the hour or of glory because Jesus speaks endlessly about his coming hour and his glorification, the hour of his death and his resurrection.
Since the washing of the feet of his disciples in chapter 13, Jesus instructs his disciples, he teaches them on the meaning of his gesture. In his teaching with the disciples, Jesus announced his departure to the Father. The disciples did not understand exactly what Jesus was referring to. It is then that Thomas makes himself the spokesman of the other disciples and asked Jesus: “Lord we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” This question earned us the beautiful response of Jesus to Thomas: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.
Jesus is the Way. Jesus himself explains it to us in the Gospel today that ‘no one can come to the Father except through him’. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father. This reminds us of another image in the Gospel of Saint John last Sunday when Jesus told us this: “I am the gate. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved.” This also reminds us that Jesus is our saviour. It is through his sacrifice that we are saved. Only in Him, comes our salvation.
Jesus is also the Truth: Let us remember what the prologue of Saint John says: “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God ..” (Jn 1: 1). Jesus is not only the perfect image of God, he is God. There is perfect coherence between the words of Jesus in the Gospels and his actions. Jesus came into this world to bear witness to the truth (Jn 18:37). So, there is consistency in his life and that is why his message is good news. This coherence between the words and the deeds of Jesus transforms the life of the people he meets. Let us remember the Samaritan woman in chapter 4 of Saint John: “Come see a man who has told me everything I ever did” (Jn 4:30) said this woman to the people. The other name for the truth could be credibility. The question we can ask ourselves this Sunday is: is the message of Jesus less credible today than yesterday? What are we doing to make this message credible today? Is there a coherence between our daily life and the message of the Gospels? Can those we meet convert to the gospel by seeing us act?
Jesus is Life. To say that Jesus is life means that we cannot live without him. It is He who gives us the breath of life. As a Christian, we cannot live without him because he nourishes us with his Word and his Body, which is the Eucharist. To understand that Jesus is the Life, we must read the following chapter of today's Gospel which is chapter 15 of the Gospel according to Saint John. In Jn 15, Jesus reminds us that He is the vine and that we are the branches, He then invites us to remain in him: “If someone does not remain in me, he dries up”. The question we can ask ourselves this Sunday is: How can we enjoy the life of Jesus? The answer is found in today's first reading. We must not only remain faithful in prayer and in the service of the Word but also, we must support those who are in need (today the widows). This is the reason why the service of the deacon was instituted by the apostles of Jesus. This responded well to the consistency of the message of the Good News.
Dear friends, let us answer Saint Peter’s call in today’s second reading. He invites us to approach the Lord Jesus who is the living stone. As we approach Jesus, we can easily build our “spiritual house”. This spiritual house is constructed not only by our faith in Jesus but also by following its path, by sharing its Good News with our brothers and sisters. This connection with Jesus is the energy which will help us to maintain our Christian life in order to transform in our turn the life of our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Fr Michel Simo Temgo, SCJ
QUEEN OF MAY/THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
(Sunday 3 May)
We celebrate the fourth Sunday of Easter year A. It is the third day of May. As you know, during this month of May we express with intensity our love and our devotion for the Virgin Mary (Pope Francis). I sang at the beginning of this Mass our well-known traditional hymn.
O Mary, we crown you with flowers today!
Queen of angels and Queen of May.
O Mary, we crown you with flowers today,
Queen of angels and Queen of May.
Dear friends, the Virgin Mary deserves to be crowned at the beginning of this month of May. During this month, everything seems to come back to life. Let us look at the flowers. It is a sign of hope in this time of confinement. It is also during this month that the first stage of the road map set up by the government for a gradual deconfinement begins. One more reason to make Mary the Queen this month.
This hope that we perceive at the start of this month of May appears in today's first reading. Peter and the other eleven apostles preach on the day of Pentecost. They were frightened and confined for fifty days. With the descent of the Holy Spirit, they had the courage to go out and proclaim that God made Lord and Christ, Jesus who was crucified. It was therefore also a progressive deconfinement for the apostles.
On this Sunday, let us pray with the psalmist this very famous and magnificent psalm of hope:
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would, I fear.
Dear friends, all signs of hope appear in today's readings. While praying through the Virgin Mary, our Queen of May, we also entrust ourselves to Jesus our Shepherd. We ask Him to guide us every day, because he is our Shepherd, our guide par excellence. He reminds us in today's Gospel that he is the door through which we must pass to be saved. Let us repeat, Jesus our Shepherd, lead me during this week on your path, be the guide of my life, Saint Mary, Queen of May, pray for me. Amen
Fr Michel Simo Temgo, SCJ
(Sunday 26 April 2020)
Dear friends in Christ,
The Word of God is alive and is constantly renewed in our daily life. It transforms our daily life and the way we act. I remember preaching on this Gospel eleven years ago. And at that time, I interpreted today’s gospel as the different stages of the mass. Today when I read the same passage, I have another inspiration about the same text. Many of you will follow different interpretations of the same passage today. These interpretations do not always fit in the scientific criteria that the specialist of the scriptures use.
In my meditation, what stroke me the most is the movement in today’s gospel. I identified four major movements in this text: The journey, the dialogue, the breaking of the bread, and the proclamation.
- The Journey: In today's Gospel, we observe two disciples on the move. Saint Luke informs us that the two disciples are on the road towards Emmaus. These two disciples are unhappy because of the dramatic situation that happened with their leader. we could even say that they were upset. They no longer know what to do. It is precisely at that moment that Jesus joins them to be in their company. We see that the Lord never abandons us when we are in trouble. Rather, it is we who find it difficult to recognize its presence when we are suffering or when we are going through a difficult situation in our lives.
- Dialogue: Jesus joins the two disciples; he enters dialogue with them. Jesus puts them back in confidence by simply asking them the question of what happened. Jesus listens to them. The question of Jesus allows them to speak, to free themselves from the problem that is disturbing them. We are here in a process of spiritual accompaniment or counselling. Jesus uses dialogue as therapy to help the two disciples who were not only in doubt, but they were experiencing a tragic loss of a loved one (Their leader). Jesus uses the scriptures in his process of therapy. Jesus becomes their companion, their friend, the two disciples are so reassured. It is because they were so confident that they asked Jesus to remain with them
- The Eucharist or the breaking of the bread: Jesus agrees to stay with the two disciples. It is therefore when these two disciples share the friendship of Jesus that Jesus reveals himself to them as the risen Lord. The two disciples were already well prepared on the way to receive the news that their Master was alive: Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us? wondered the two disciples. We see here how the Eucharist played an important role in the lives of the two disciples. In this time of confinement, many Christians are not able to receive the physical Eucharistic. Many of you have been receiving spiritual communion for some time.
Many Christians around the world undoubtedly ask themselves the following question: how can we receive the Body and the Blood of the Lord again? I find the question legitimate. Are our parishes capable of providing protection to a small number of Christians who participate in a Eucharistic celebration? Do our parishes have the resources to provide this protection? Perhaps it is time to ask these questions seriously.
These questions deserve reflection not only from the bishops but from the entire Christian community itself, which can make proposals to the bishops. This brings us to the fourth moment of today's gospel which is the proclamation.
- The proclamation is indeed the sharing of the good news. This good news is done in community. We see it with the community of disciples. The two disciples will announce the good news to the others. There is a sense of community here in the proclamation. After the personal meeting with Jesus, the two disciples went to announce it to the whole community. We can see the importance of the Christian community in announcing the Kerygma.
On this third Easter Sunday, let us ask the risen Christ to accompany us. Let us enter dialogue with him in prayer and meditation in the Scriptures. Let us pray that our churches will reopen again so that we can be nourished by the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus who give us the strength to go and proclaim the Good News to our brothers and sisters. Amen!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo SCJ
(Sunday 19 April 2020)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This second Easter Sunday is also called the Sunday of divine mercy. It was established by Saint John Paul II in 2000 during the beatification of Sister Faustina Kowalska who will later become Saint Faustina. She benefited from the apparition of Jesus who inspired her the devotion to divine mercy.
We celebrate the mystery of the resurrection today as an expression of God's mercy. The person who expresses it best in today’s readings is Saint Peter (in the second reading): In his great mercy, God has given us new birth thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He makes us reborn for a living hope thanks to the resurrection. Here we have three important words: Resurrection-mercy-Hope.
These three words are intimately related: The resurrection took place because of the mercy of God. As Pope Francis beautifully explains it: “mercy is a journey that begins in the heart and ends with the hands”.
The resurrection of Jesus is a concrete act of mercy and hope. It is what Saint Peter calls living hope. So, we can see that the resurrection is the concrete fruit of the great hope and the resurrection took place because of the great mercy of God. What does the three themes of resurrection, mercy and hope teach us?
First, the resurrection of Jesus should feed our hope, especially in this time of crisis. A time when we worry about ourselves and our loved ones, a time when we pray for this crisis to end.
Second, our compassion for others should drive us to act. Our compassion should not be a vague feeling. More than ever, we need solidarity as one humanity. We must "stay faithful to the brotherhood" as we heard in today's first reading. We must learn from the unity of the first community because all that they possessed, they shared with others.
Thirdly, Hope should be our shield right now. Hope allows us to understand that despite everything the Lord is always with us; his presence accompanies us even in the most difficult moments when we have the impression that he is absent.
Christ is risen Alleluia alleluia! He is truly risen Alleluia alleluia!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo SCJ
EASTER SUNDAY HOMILY
Dear friends in Christ,
We celebrate Easter this year in a different way. We celebrate it confined to our houses. It is an occasion for me to pay tribute to all those who are at the frontlines during this crisis. They are not only heroes, but they are what Pope Francis calls “the Saints next door.” (Gaudete et exsultate). In today’s readings we also have those that we can call the heroes of the resurrection: Let us just take the examples of Peter and Mary Magdalene.
Let us start with Peter. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. He is also known as Simon or Cephas (John 1:42). He is one of the first disciples called by Jesus. His journey with Jesus is incredible with his ups and downs. One of his important moments with Jesus is his profession of faith at Capernaum: “What about you, do you want to go away too? Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.” (John 6: 68). There are other important moments of Saint Peter with Jesus: Mt 16:18, Peter as the rock; Jesus foretold Peter’s denial (Lk 22:31-34; Mt 16:19; Jn 21: 15-17). Then there is Peter’s denial (Lk 22: 54-62; Jn 18:15-18...) Peter denied Jesus three times.
After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter is completely transformed. He is a different person. That is what we learn from today’s first reading. Perhaps the context in which Peter announced the resurrection of Jesus should be explained. It was in a negative context with a moody atmosphere. No doubt many of Jesus’s disciples were afraid of reprisals from the Jews. But it is precisely in this context that Peter announced that Christ is alive. Later, he went further by entering a pagan’s house called Cornelius. As a strong Jew, he broke the barrier between the Jews and the non-Jews or the pagans. That was the beginning of our early church. That was also the effects, the consequences of the resurrection. Peter did this in the name of Jesus. From now on, salvation is for all: Jews and non-Jews or pagans. Today, we might take this for granted but I imagine that at that time it was not easy and entering the house of Cornelius was a great achievement for Peter.
Another hero of this resurrection is Mary of Magdala. She had been healed by Jesus (Lk 8:1-2). She was one of the disciples of Jesus and she had been very faithful to him. According to the gospels she was present at the very important moment of the life of Jesus with other women (Lk 7:37; Mt 27:55-56). On this Easter Sunday, let us just picture this woman alone, in the dark going to the tomb. She had been courageous to take such risks. I think that she knew that anything could happen to her. But she went to the tomb first and she was the first witness of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. She witnessed the empty tomb and she went to announce it to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved.
So, our heroes of the resurrection, Peter, and Mary of Magdala have been close to Jesus. Simon Peter was an Apostle of Jesus with his ups and downs and Mary of Magdala was a disciple. Nevertheless the latter, from the moment of her healing, became a faithful disciple of Jesus at all the stages of his ministry. The question that could be asked of each of us this Sunday is: What do our two heroes of today's readings teach us about the resurrection?
I am sure that some of you might have the feeling that the celebration of Easter this year does not bring so much to your lives especially during this time of crisis. But let me tell you this, the celebration of Easter is above all the celebration of our hope. It also the celebration of the ‘saints next door.’ It is the celebration of the victory of good over evil, the celebration of unity over division, the celebration of the victory of life over death. Hope never fails us.
Even in the storm of this crisis of corona virus, we can still shine our lights for “the saints next door.” In Ireland, people were asked to shine a light for healthcare workers and the sick on Saturday, April 11, the evening before Easter. From 9 p.m., public buildings, Irish embassies and peacekeeping posts around the world were lit up. The public had been encouraged to light a light or light a candle at the window of their homes to pay tribute to those at the frontlines of this crisis. What a coincidence! It happened on the eve of Easter, the very night that we sang of Jesus’ victory over death through the Exsultet or the Easter proclamation and we also lit the Easter candle, the light of Christ, the Risen Lord. It is these different gestures of hope that make the beauty and depth of this Easter celebration.
May the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord this year help us to rediscover that we are one humanity. Let us bring forward the light of solidarity, of hope because we believe that the resurrected Lord is always with us.
Christ is risen Alleluia Alleluia, He is truly risen alleluia, alleluia!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo SCJ
HOLY SATURDAY REFLECTION
Fr Hugh writes. Typing this out on the morning of Holy Saturday. The Church calls this day a ‘dies non’ or a non day. It is as though we are still shell-shocked by the death of Jesus on the Cross. Like the disciples we don’t know what to do. All we can do is wait. Nothing liturgical happens in the Church today.
Okay, there is normally the Easter Vigil this evening, but after dark we have already moved on from Saturday to celebrate the great Sunday. Of course the priests in the presbytery will continue to pray the prayer of the Church for everyone. We have said the morning prayer together these past two days, as we have done on previous Holy Thursdays and Good Fridays in recent years. We will be gathering to say our prayers again this morning at 10.00 o’clock.
This past week Fr Michel has discovered how to film our prayers and services on his camera and some of these have been uploaded onto our Facebook page and YouTube. For our Facebook just type in stjohnvianneydublin. We will still continue to say our masses at the usual parish times – 10.00 o’clock Monday to Saturday and 6.00 pm vigil and 9.30 and 11.30 on Sundays.
Many of you are already tuning in to the thousands of Masses that are being streamed all over the world. You can go on to churchservices.tv which lists the times of masses that are being streamed throughout the day. Look out for the daily Mass on RTE news 24 at 10.30 am.
In the community we mostly use our small chapel upstairs, but for the Holy week services we have been using the larger sitting/dining room. Fr Marian already has the paschal candle in waiting. What he is going to do about the paschal fire we will need to wait and see.
I will be saying the 9.30 Mass on Easter Sunday morning, and Fr Michel the 11.30 which will also be shown on our Facebook live.
During the week we received quite a few phone calls from parishioners and others requesting to be added to our Mass Diary. We have found last year’s diary and so will be adding for the coming weeks the anniversaries that were requested last year.
As this is still Holy Saturday I am at a loss for words to give you an Easter greeting, but Eastertime stretches for the next 50 days. It might seem like that we are going to be in the tomb for that length of time and even longer until we can get to grips with the virus. Let us remind ourselves that Easter Sunday is when we have traditionally renewed our baptismal promises, declaring our willingness to go through death with Jesus to rise again with him in glory. We never know when the Lord is going to call us to himself, but part of us is already with him in heaven. Let us connect with the heaven that is already within us due to the presence of the Trinity in our hearts and souls. Let’s not lose sight of that when the going gets tough.
A Happy Easter when it comes,
Fr Hugh Hanley SCJ
PALM SUNDAY, 5 APRIL 2020
A few Wednesdays ago Pope Francis was encouraging Christians throughout the world to say the Our Father together at the same time. His intention was to unite us in prayer and at the same time to encourage us to pray this prayer which Jesus taught his disciples, when they kept seeing him praying himself. I’m sure the Pope’s hope was that we would continue to meditate on this wonderful prayer in this time of difficulty.
Today we begin Holy Week. I would encourage you to try and say the Our Father several times a day - as we are getting up as a morning offering, and then before going to bed as a thanksgiving for the day. Why not pick another time during the day when we can pray for others generally, or those closest to us, or perhaps for someone who we know needs our prayers.
We can also personalise the Our Father. For example: May I do your will here on earth as it is in heaven. May he keep your name holy. Give her this day her daily bread. Deliver them from evil etc.
Another way to say the Our Father is to imagine Jesus saying this prayer to his Father as he prepared to face his death. Think of him in his humanity uniting himself ever more closely to his Father and to the Holy Spirit.
- Our Father, who art in heaven
Jesus was consoled by the thought that his humanity would soon rise from the dead and, after his ascension, would be fully reunited with the Father and the Spirit in heaven.
- Hallowed be thy name
Think of how the crowds rejoiced with Jesus on Palm Sunday as they accompanied him into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, crying out to him the words of praise which they used to God when they entered the temple: Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
- Thy kingdom come
Jesus had dedicated himself to bringing about Gods kingdom on earth and he knew that soon he would be arrested and the kingdom would be accomplished.
- Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
On Palm Sunday, as they passed close by the Mount of Olives, we remember how Jesus would soon be back there praying to his Father, “Take this chalice away from me; but not my will, your will be done”.
- Give him this day his daily bread
As we think of Jesus now suffering in the least and greatest of his brothers and sisters during this pandemic, we think of how Jesus was able to live one day at a time, trusting his Father would be with him in his rejection and suffering.
- Forgive us our trespasses
Jesus did not sin. He still made mistakes. Imagine him reflecting over his life and the lessons that he had to learn, particularly now as he enters the temple thinking how, as a teenager, he caused his mother and father great distress when he stayed on in the temple and was lost for three days.
- As we forgive those who trespass against us
Although Jesus was being attacked from every side by the rulers in Jerusalem, he had already forgiven them in his heart. “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”. He was to prepare Peter at the Last Supper for his three denials. He even allowed Judas to go and do what he had to do.
- Lead us not into temptation
We began Lent by thinking of the temptations of Jesus in the desert, and at the end of those temptations the Gospel says, the devil left him, to return at the appointed hour. As Jesus faced his death he knew that this was his hour.
- Deliver us from evil
As Christians we believe that it is the sacrifice of Jesus which has saved us from every evil, including and especially death. By his resurrection and ascension, Jesus has already brought a part of us with him into heaven. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, he said. If there were not I would have told you. I am going ahead now to prepare a place for you so that where I am you can be also.
Fr Hugh Hanley SCJ
SUNDAY 29 MARCH 2020
Dear brother and sister, be blessed on this 5th Sunday of Lent year A
The word of the Lord is alive, and it is the lamp which lights up our steps (Ps 119, 105). This same word is a weapon for the Christian. It is useful “to teach, to convince, to correct, to instruct in justice, so that the man of God is accomplished and fit for all good work.” (2 Tim 3, 16-17). This Word is therefore central to our Christian life, which guided and continues to guide the Church. It is at the centre of our liturgy which means the service of the people of God. This people of God who should be gathered in our different parishes this Sunday around the Eucharistic table. The corona virus crisis forced us to pray today from our homes which are domestic churches, it is for us to pray in spirit and in truth our Lord (Jn 4:23) “But the hour is coming , and it has already come, where true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for these are the worshipers that the Father requests”, says our Lord.
On this Sunday of our Lord's resurrection many of you are confined to your homes and are asking questions. When will this ordeal end? you may be inhabited by a spirit of fear, of despair. But for us Christians, the flame of hope never goes out. It is this hope that should guide us at this time when a health crisis reveals to the whole world that we are fragile beings. More than ever the corona virus has made us understand that vulnerability is part of our common humanity. This Sunday’s readings help us to rediscover this theological virtue of hope in the mystery of our Lord’s resurrection and especially that of Lazarus on this day.
It is this hope that appears in the first reading taken from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. Are our lives looking like tombs right now? Are we dead with fear, are we overwhelmed by doubt? Thus, says the Lord God: "I will open your tombs and bring them up, O my people, and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord when I open your tombs and bring them up, O my people! I will put my spirit in you, and you will live. "
On this Sunday let us raise our eyes to the Lord with the psalmist to ask him to listen to our calls and that his ear be attentive to the cry of our call. Indeed, we hope with all our souls and we listen to his word. Let us take up again with the Lord this beautiful prayer of our Lord Jesus as a sign of our hope: “Father, I give you thanks because you have answered me. I knew that you always hear me.” Amen!
Fr Michel Simo Temgo SCJ
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